Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's different down here

This is where I spend most of my time when we are visiting Auntie here near Tampa. I LOVE this spa. It makes me feel sooooo good. I have my chair and hassock here on the lanai, I sit and read or stitch or whatever, and I just enjoy the quiet and the jungle of plants and the WARMTH!

I went in the house this morning and announced that Florida had worked its magic again. While some of my medical issues are with me always, the debilitating effects of the FM seem to recede soon after I arrive here. I know it is not only the weather- which is WONDERFUL!!!- but that is a big factor.

The other big factor is the different pace here. I just don't have to ever hurry. There is NO stress. Being away from work makes a huge difference, but the leisurely way in which we do things when we are here also really helps.

I don't get much done here. I read a lot- two books finished since we left Philadelphia, with another one far gone. I got a few trial stitches into the sampler I will be officially starting on Thursday- the Beatrix Potter Quaker Sampler for which I've joined a 2009 stitch-a-long online. I have my tatting bag down here and even out here on the lanai, but so far no work done on that either.

So, I am resting and enjoying myself. DH is playing golf again today; Auntie is off getting her hair done. Tomorrow we will be going over to St. Petersburg to the P. Buckley Moss gallery. I will write about our New Year's Eve later.

Time to get into the spa- yippee!!!

I'm not gone, just resting

The picture won't upload, we watched a silly movie until way late, and it's Christmas vacation! I'll be back to checking out everyone's blog and posting on mine very soon. But, not tonight!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

I love Christmas letters!

They are derided, denigrated and mocked. You read, often, sarcastic and just plain nasty commentaries on the "dreaded" Christmas letter. Well, I LOVE them!

Now, I must admit that the ones I sometimes get that only talk about "our trip to Fiji" and "little Susie having to choose between Harvard and Yale" are a bit hard to take. Give me a break, people- I knew you when and you ain't fooling nobody!

But the GOOD ones- the ones that really keep you in touch, even if only once a year, with people whose presence in your life has been meaningful, THESE I LOVE!!!!

I got a great one today. It was from my journalism professor when I studied at the Journalism Institute at Catholic University in the summer of 1969. Sr. Joanna at my high school taught me to love writing; Jim taught me to appreciate and value newspapers. He tried to teach me to write concisely, but regular readers here know that he was not as successful at that, lol!

He not only wrote a great newspaper article, he writes a GREAT letter! Although I have only met his now-18yo-son once, I feel like I know him because I have gotten the yearly letter and followed his life. I've met his wife only a few times but the same applies. I feel that I have a *now* sense of the man I knew almost 40 years ago in spite of our IRL visits being few and far between in the intervening years.

I'm repeating a theme here, but the power of the written word, be it in a letter, an email, an IM, or a blog, can make and maintain friendships through years and across miles. One of my favorite movies is 84 Charing Cross Road, the (mostly) true story of an amazing friendship that spanned the Atlantic and many years between two people who never met. It reinforces for me how real the friendships I've made in the last 15 years on the Internet can be, and are.

So, I have written a letter back to him, and will mail it tomorrow inside a Christmas card, even if it is the ONLY Christmas card I get mailed- as I have not finished them yet and I do not mail any until all are done, even if that means, as it has several times, that none ever get mailed. For this special friend, who gave me such a gift when he taught me to write better and to read perceptively, and who continues to share his talent and friendship with me after all these years, I will make a notable exception.

To everyone who has taken the time since I started this blog to comment, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation. For someone who craves the written word in all its forms, as I do, it means a lot.

O Holy Night - Studio 60

This gorgeous version of O Holy Night was first presented on the Christmas episode of Studio 60. The musicians, portrayed as displayed by Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans, are in fact musicians displaced from New Orleans by Katrina. This video has had the dialog track removed. I have always loved this beautiful Christmas hymn and here is a version to treasure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Knock at the Door

A friend sent me this and I thought it was wonderful, so here it is!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday musings

It's the Saturday before Christmas and therefore destined to be a very busy day. I am getting it off to a slow start, checking out my favorite blogs and sipping my tea.

This BEAUTIFUL card came yesterday from my friend and enabler Etha. The stamps are from the Little Blossom Cottage sets at Clear Artistic Stamps. With all the sparkle and shimmer that doesn't scan well, this card is WAY more gorgeous IRL.

The card got me to thinking (again) about the wonders of the Internet. Etha and I have known one another now for about 13-14 years online. I treasure her friendship. Although my grandmother is to "blame" for all the bags of crochet yarn, and I found cross stitch and quilting pretty much on my own, without Etha's example I would never have tried Hardanger, or tatting, or bobbin lace, or stamping, or cardmaking, or blogging! I learned about EGA and SCS from Etha. I got to visit Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard because of Etha. My husband hiked the mountains of Colorado with Etha- and I was sure that for at least two days of his more-than-month-long trip he was being well fed.

On the "down" side, I have a "craft room" that is too much storage and not enough work space because I collect so much stuff through Etha's enabling, lol!

And, all of this when we have actually, physically, "met" maybe 5 or 6 times!

I have good friends from an old chat group on MIRC. We talked about stitching, sometimes every night, and about everything else in our lives as well. A few of us then met IRL at the various stitching festivals years ago- SOCS and HOCS and CATS. I got to see Bev, one of those special friends, again this year at the Stitching Jubilee and I'm already planning to attend again next year, with Bev and company, I hope.

The SplitCoastStampers Flybabies is another special group of women brought together on the Internet through a crafty interest and who have become friends way beyond stamping. I feel like I know them so well it is actually hard to believe that I have never met any of them.

Isn't technology GRAND?

Well, today I need to try to finish my Christmas cards, finish a small scrapbook of old Christmas pictures for my mother's present, and get some housework done. I also need to rest up a little for the BIG holiday party that our friends give every year and which always goes VERY late. Aside from the housework part, it looks like a fun day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good day, bad day

On the "bad day" front, the weather is miserable, I am totally overwhelmed with "other" stuff at work, and the combination of the both of these with some strong lingering effects from being so cold for days on end a couple weeks ago have left me with the Fibromyalgia flare really raging. Everything hurts, my brain is operating at 33 in a 78 world (only those of us of a certain age get *this* reference), and I cannot sleep well but am constantly exhausted. Everything is just "too much" and I am rapidly approaching ANYTHING being too much.

So, I am getting nothing done and yet Christmas gets closer and closer.

On the good news front however, I came home to several pieces of happy news. Along about now I am guessing that some of you are asking "why is there an Easter Bunny picture here and when is she going to explain"? Well, Cornish Heritage Farms had a giveaway on their Creative Blog over the weekend and I was a winner! The prizes were to celebrate the release of three new Saturday Evening Post cover artwork stamps. This bunny is one of the new stamps and is my favorite of the three new ones, and I hope the one I won!

I think I posted here before that my Great-uncle worked on the Saturday Evening Post covers for Curtis Publishing for 40 years. One of these days I will have to tell you all my "tragic" SEP covers story. For now just know that the Post covers were always beautiful and I had/have a special affection for them. This new line at CHF is very beautiful and wonderful to play with. So, winning a new one makes me a happier camper.

Item number 2 of my good news is ANOTHER blog contest win. Over at Risky Regencies I won an autographed copy of Deb Marlowe's "An Improper Aristocrat". I love reading Regencies and this is a real treat to get one straight from the author!

As for item number three that was good news today? Well, for anyone who bakes Christmas cookies this is probably heresy, so maybe you should stop reading. For those who are cookie-baking impaired like me, you should not be *too* appalled. My favorite Christmas cookies at our house (NOT including the ones others who bake well are kind enough to give us, of course) are Tastykake Holiday cookies. They are cute little sugar cookies with colored sprinkles- no big deal. But I LOVE them! Actually, I LOVE almost all kinds of Tastykakes!- Krimpets, Juniors, Kandykakes, pies- love them all! But at the holidays, I love Tastykake cookies. They are sold in cute round cardboard boxes, kind of like movie popcorn tubs.

So, why am I happy? My wonderful son had to stop for milk on his way home from work and what else did he bring home? YES!!!!

So, while I still feel terrible, there is at least some happy news to cheer me up a little. Hope everyone else is having a *Good* day!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hope this will give you a chuckle!

My son has an "interesting" sense of humor. I could not resist sharing with you this little story he wrote to his weekly email group. Enjoy!

In a funny coincidence, I actually had TWO completely different friends going off to cut down a Christmas tree this past weekend. Like, actually go someplace and chop down a live tree, as opposed to the rest of us who just go to the place with the light bulbs strung up on clothesline and buy a pre-cut tree. Seriously, when did strings of bare light bulbs become the international symbol for "buy Christmas trees here" anyway?

Speaking to one of them after the fact, I said, "how did the murder go?"

"What murder?" he asked.

"You murdered your Christmas tree. I'm asking how it went."

"It isn't murder!"

"Sure it is. The tree is alive when you get there. It's dead when you leave. Murder one, man."

"Well then what does everyone else do? Is that murder too?"

"Oh, no. Cutting down a live tree is murder. Buying one at a lot is just disposing of a body."

I love Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday Night at the Movies

Saturday night is "date night" at our house. DH and I try to spend Saturday night together doing something fun. This time of year with the cold and all, we usually just stay in and watch movies- something we don't have time for the rest of the week.

The last two Saturday nights have been spent with movies that came highly recommended. Last week was "Atonement" and tonight was "The English Patient". Both feature largely British casts, flashbacks as a way to tell the story, and are set in two time periods, the mid-to-late 30s and the war years. Both are visually gorgeous, dramatically intense and classic material for film classes.

Everything that should guarantee that DH and I loved them.

Well, maybe we are both getting old and crotchety, but we didn't much like either one. Both movies are graphically violent, both tell tragic love stories, and both left us with the same reaction- "Well, that was depressing!"

Not that I mind having watched them. They were both masterfully made and exquisite to look at. Both featured good casts and interesting stories. But both reveal at the end that the central character was not, perhaps, worthy of our care, and a sad movie that ends with redemption at least makes one feel like the emotional investment was justified.

If you loved either of these movies, I'd like to hear why.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What a way to make me feel better!

So I came up to check my email and stuff before heading back to bed. I wasn't in the greatest mood- DH and I had just watched "Atonement" and I was feeling quite conflicted- it's a really good film but the ending did NOT make me happy but then again it was terrific for starting a stimulating discussion. And, the rotten cold (both weather and health) is still here.

And, when I get here, look what I find! A wonderful award and really nice comments on Sandy's blog Herwig Happenings. This certainly cheered me right up! Thanks SOOO much, Sandy!

So, here's how this works:

The rules of this award are:
1. You have to pass it on to 5 other fabulous blogs in a post.
2. You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.
3. You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.
Instructions: On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well. To add the award to your post, simply right-click, save image, then "add image" it in your post as a picture so your winners can save it as well. To add it to your sidebar, add the "picture" gadget. Also, don't forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog.

Five Fabulous Blogs I love to read:

1) Wonders and Marvels Holly Tucker writes and supervises a fascinating blog with lots of history and quite a bit of medicine (historical) plus a few other things thrown in. I love her writing and her topic choices- she's a really interesting woman.

2)Mirabilis This is a dream for the "I like to know 'stuff'" types like me. Christine posts news stories from around the world- all the stuff that doesn't make the front page and to folks like me are way more interesting than the front page. Just an example: I created quite a stir at the lunch table last week by announcing that "they've found D'Artagnan's grave"- especially since everyone at the table thought he was only fictional! Thanks, Christine, for your almost daily doses of fun and fascinating information.

3)Word Wenches I recently discovered this blog by a group of Regency Romance authors. I've read books by all of them and one of them (who shall remain un-named so as not to insult the other very talented ladies whose books I also like) is one of my favorite writers in the genre. It is a LOT of fun to hear from the authors in their "now" voices as well as through their books.

4) Stampin' When I Can Allison has a stamping blog that is fun, includes some off-topic stuff that I always enjoy, and that helps enlarge the blogging world because she has a regular feature listing "Newly Discovered Blogs".

5)StitchBitch Just the name of the blog kind of clues you in- Anna is a needleworker with a wicked sense of humor!

Now for the hard part- five fabulous addictions!

#1 is easy- books! I am sitting in a room covered floor to ceiling with no walls showing (yes, they are in bookcases, lol!) with books! I don't remember learning to read- I just always did. Books have always been my friends, my teachers, my comforters, my inspirations. I get them from the library, I borrow them from friends, but mostly I buy them. I *can* bear to give them away later- some of them, anyway- but I cannot, have not, will not, COULD not EVER throw a book away.

The rest are in no particular order.

2) Tea. I love tea. AND, only the way I had it as a kid. In my family, tea is good for everything. My grandmother had a pretty cut glass high sugar bowl that always stayed on her table- full of teaspoons, so you didn't have to go get one for your tea. I've been drinking tea since before I can remember. As a little kid you got a tiny bit of tea with mostly milk and lots of sugar. As you grew up you were supposed to diminish the milk and sugar- which I never really did. One of my students once called my concoction "cream tea", a title I like.

3) Collecting needlework and craft stuff. Yes, collecting. The stitching and the scrapbooking and the other activities are hobbies or even passions- but the collecting is the addiction. If I quit my job tomorrow, stitched and crafted every day for the rest of my life, and lived to be 200, I would only need to replace things like needles and two-sided tape.

4) Kitchen gadgets. I love to cook and "mess about" in the kitchen. Not listed in #1 are the 200+ cookbooks in the kitchen. More than cookbooks though, I love all the great variety of kitchen utensils, tools and equipment. Could I get rid of at least 1/2 the stuff in my kitchen and still cook everything I do now? Of course! Would it be half as much fun? NO WAY!

5) Things with meaning. I like having THINGS that have memories connected to them. I get SOOO mad at the people (sometimes even Flylady) who say things like "you don't need objects, you have memories". I like tangible memories and reminders. I like having my maternal grandmother's dishes- even though by the time I got them I already had both regular dishes and "good china". They were my Grandmother's and I like having them. I love the old chair in the dining room even though it is clearly old and probably not safe for anyone over 100 pounds. It was my paternal Grandmother's, it was used in my father's office and I like just seeing it even if no one sits in it. I love the little construction paper stocking that's been on every tree since first grade; I love the old candlesticks that totally do not "go" in my dining room; I love the broken-handled beer mug from the brewery in Switzerland. So, my house is over-full of stuff with memories- and I like it that way!

This is now WAY long and it is WAY later than whatever time the post will show. DH and DS are downstairs having on of their discussions which could go all night- currently DH is predicting that the Eagles will beat the Giants tomorrow. THAT would be GREAT!

Off for some Nyquil and some sleep!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sometimes I don't appreciate generosity

DH's friend and colleague "shared" his cold with DH, who so "generously" has shared it with me. YUCK!

If I feel up to it, tomorrow will be Christmas decorating around here. I also want to get some of the curtains washed and stuff like that. If I feel up to it.

Meanwhile, I am really enjoying my current book- a novel about Jane Austen. Tomorrow I hope to have stitching and crafting updates.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Boring online shopping

So, here's how I spent my evening online- yeah, I needed socks and nylons!

Mind you, I am NOT complaining! When I can bulk order (a dozen pair at a time) such mundane things as socks and nylons, while making sure I am getting a better price than if I trekked around to multiple "real" stores, I am a happy camper. No out-in-the-cold, no driving, no walking around stores or malls or whatever. I just notice that I am getting low on whatever it is, find a good deal online and VOILA! A couple days later, I have new ones.

So I am probably just whining rather than complaining. Realizing that you have runs in almost all your nylons (courtesy of the %$#* leg braces) and that you are suddenly wearing weird holes in the heels of your socks (due to the weird way you are walking, courtesy of the %$#* leg braces) and that you have to shop for new ones at the same time that you have MOUNDS of paper to deal with for work, Christmas is 3 weeks away and you have not started on cards yet, and just generally being behind already, means that having to shop for socks and nylons is not only boring but annoying.

Going to old reliable OneHanesPlace.com made the nylons pretty easy. I don't even bother looking anymore- if someone does have my L'eggs cheaper it would take me longer than it is worth to find the site. But, when good old reliable is OUT OF my favorite socks, then I have to shop.

So, my inbox is full of order notices and it is time for LIFE and other than ordering hosiery, nothing much got done tonight. Necessary, but BORING!